Here’s a rundown on what went on at Patriots’ practice this evening:
– Physically unable to perform list: DL Ron Brace, DL Brandon Deaderick, DL Myron Pryor.
– Non-football injury list: OL Marcus Cannon.
– Returned to practice: CB Kyle Arrington, RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis, G Logan Mankins, RB Sammy Morris, LB Tracy White, RB Kevin Faulk, DL Steve Williams, LS Matt Katula, DE Alex Silvestro, CB Darius Butler.
– Out: S Josh Barrett, OT Kyle Hix, RB Eric Kettani, G Ryan Wendell, CB Ras-I Dowling, OT Matt Light, RB Shane Vereen, RB Kevin Faulk.
– S Brandon Meriweather dinged his left calf but taped it up and kept practicing.
TOP OF THE NEWS
– With the collective bargaining agreement ratified, the Patriots welcomed back several veterans back into the fold. It had the feeling that mini-camp was over and now the real work can begin.
– Good to see Logan Mankins back at his normal left guard position. You could tell he was rusty. Mankins appeared to be disappointed in his play on a few occasions during the offensive vs. defensive line stunt drill.
– Got our first glimpse at first-round left tackle Nate Solder. He had his ups and downs, but he absolutely looks the part. Showed great feet and punch in individual drills before having some troubles in one-on-ones. His vast potential is obvious, however.
Tom Brady threw a beautiful touch pass to TE Rob Gronkowski on the right sidelines over LB Gary Guyton. Gronkowski continues to catch everything thrown to him. He’s been unstoppable so far in camp. Brady was the sharpest he’s been to date.
CB Kyle Arrington looked like he never left. Or if he did, he went someplace to improve. Arrington was outstanding in man coverage drills, and played with a ton of confidence. He was in on three straight incomplete passes against the second- and third-team offenses in red zone. Arrington had a pass breakup, then a pass defensed and then played tight coverage that could have drawn a flag but didn’t. He also had an interception of Ryan Mallett.
WR Chad Ochocinco followed up his best practice of camp with his worst. Ochocinco had at least four drops in practice, with two coming without defenders on the field. The worst drop was clear touchdown where Ochocinco had gotten behind S Brandon McGowan and then let a 50-yard bomb from Tom Brady bounce off his hands. Ochocinco didn’t like getting handled by Devin McCourty in a getting-off-the-line drill. Ochocinco stayed after practice to catch passes from Brady.
– Dropped like it’s hot: Ochocinco (4), Aaron Hernandez (no defense), Julian Edelman, Ridley.
– Fumbling men: None.
LOVE ME SOME ONE-ON-ONES
Standouts–Offense: Mark LeVoir (1-0-2), Dan Koppen (0-0-3) Logan Mankins (1-1-2). Defense: Eric Moore (4-0-0), Rob Ninkovich (3-0-0), Vince Wilfork (2-0-1), Mike Wright (2-0-1).
Stuggled a little bit–Offense: Sebastian Vollmer (1-4-0), Dan Connolly (2-3-0), Nate Solder (1-3-0), Corey Woods (0-2-0). Defense: Markell Carter (0-2-0), Jermaine Cunningham (0-1-2), Landon Cohen (1-2-1).
Decided victories: Wilfork over Connolly, Wilfork over Chris Morris, Clay Nurse over Woods, Wright over Connolly, Wright over Ohrnberger, Moore over Solder, Ninkovich over Woods.
Getting Mankins and Solder didn’t help a whole lot in one-on-ones. The offensive line again had a rough time, losing 18 of 37 (7-18-12) battles in two sessions (the stunt session was an improvement over the last one, but it was still poor).
Vollmer struggled for the first time in practice, and most of the time it was against Moore, who was outstanding. Nobody could handle his quickness from the edge. Same goes for Ninkovich. Wilfork also continues to be unblockable. Solder often took some tutoring from offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia after his three losses. It’s nothing that can’t cleaned up. Solder can play high at times and that needs to be worked on. The small, quick guys give him the most trouble. Mankins was good but not his usual great self.
It’s getting to the point now that it just may be that the defensive line is just that good at this point, and any line would have trouble handing them. But we want to see what happens when Light is back and Vollmer can go back to his usual right side.
ODDS AND ENDS
– Interesting that on the very first snap of team in practice, Solder was the left tackle. But Vollmer took most of the reps there, even though Matt Light is signed (didn’t practice).
– It bodes very well for undrafted LB Jeff Tarpinian that he had a featured role on kickoff coverage. McGowan, RB Stevan Ridley and DB Brett Lockett were younger players also on the unit.
– DL Albert Haynesworth had a fairly non-descript practice. Mankins told Haynesworth the big boys are here now by knocking him back the first time they faced off in run drills. Haynesworth got him the next time around. But overall, he was far from dominating. He only took one-on-one rep, and didn’t like it when Ohrnberger finally held his own against Haynesworth. There was a little pushing, shoving and taking after that. Haynesworth was offsides on a one-on-one rep and had to run a lap. He did not take part in the sprints after practice, and chatted with coach Bill Belichick after stretching.
– In the red zone drills, Brady’s group score on two of their three plays. On the first, WR Wes Welker left CB Devin McCourty in the dust off the line. Following a quick screen to WR Deion Branch, RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis leaked out to the backfield and beat LB Jerod Mayo to the pylon.
– CB Leigh Bodden got more looks in the slot.
– Gronkowski struggled for the first time with his blocking in the running drill. Seemed to get a bit high.
– Ridley struggled so far on blitz pickup. He missed Ninkovich tonight.
– DE Alex Silvestro continues to open some eyes. He flew past Mark LeVoir for what would have been a sack.
– OL Corey Woods had a nice kickout block against Aaron Lavarias on a run by Ridley.
– Mankins popped LB Dane Fletcher so hard on an inside run drill he got lifted off the ground.
– RB Sammy Morris had a lot of rust on him.
– Mallett continues to miss high more than anything. He was picked by Arrington on a pass Mallett shouldn’t have thrown.
– DE Mike Wright destroyed OL Jonathan Compas in team drills.
– The field-goal operation was much cleaner with Matt Katula back doing the snapping instead of Ninkovich. Don’t think Katula has to worry about losing his job for a while. Well, at least to Ninkovich.
– Taylor Price’s quickness was outstanding in the getting-off-the-line drill that matched WRs vs. DBs. Arrington stuffed Welker, who blew by Thad Turner.
– The large crowd gave a great standing ovation to some two dozen service men and women who walked around the field.
– Sports Illustrated scribes Peter King and Tim Layden were part of the media scrum.
– Tommorow’s practice: 1:30-4 p.m.